Ask Steve: Gospel Presentation

Question: Steve, I am somewhat new to the Christian faith, and I want to learn how to evangelize unbelievers. I have heard some good gospel presentations and some not-so-good gospel presentations. Can you give me a thorough, biblical, and convicting gospel message that I can learn and share with others, whether verbally or in printed form?

Answer: Genesis 1 shows that God (the one God who is composed of three separate Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is called the doctrine of the Trinity) is the Creator and Author of life on earth. This means earth and all its living inhabitants had a real, defined beginning in time and space. He created the world in six-days and created human beings, male and female. Isaiah 43:7 states that God created mankind for one purpose: God’s glory. Mankind was created to love, serve, and worship God. That is the meaning and purpose of their lives. Because God created all things, He has rightful ownership of all things, and is worthy of all worship, according to Psalm 24:1.

Though mankind was created morally perfect, the first two human creations of God, Adam and Eve, forever polluted their moral nature and became unrighteous when they sinned against the Lord by disobeying Him, according to Genesis 3. Disobedience, or sin, is essentially violation of God’s law and righteous character, going against the very thing that God created us for, which is worship and obedience to God.

The fall and disobedience of Adam and Eve had also corrupted the moral nature of their offspring, which comprises the entirety of the world’s population to this very day. Everyone since the beginning of time has been born with a sinful nature, which is why we are so easily inclined to do bad and morally questionable things, and constantly have to be taught to do right from childhood. This is why they Bible teaches that humans are depraved, which means that they are incapable of pleasing God and being saved from God’s eternal judgment. It is not in our nature to obey God’s greatest commandment of loving God with all our heart (Matthew 22:37). Instead, we sin against Him by lying, cheating, gossiping, lusting, being self-righteous, amongst other sins. That is why the Apostle Paul, in writing the book of Romans, said, “There is none righteous, not even one…All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one…” (Romans 3:10-12).

Though love is an eternal attribute of God, so is righteousness. Because God is perfectly just, He will uphold the honor and integrity of His righteousness, and will punish those who have violated His commandments. If He did not judge sin, He would be a corrupt judge for letting criminals go, no matter how “religious” or “moral” they claim to be in their life. God is so holy and just that He does not simply overlook the crime and pardon the guilty (Exodus 34:7). At the final judgment, God will consign the guilty to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15), which is conscious torment that goes on forever with no end.

So what is God’s standard of righteousness? What exactly is a good person in God’s sight? How good do we have to be to go to heaven and escape God’s wrath against lawbreakers? Scripture defines this standard of good as total perfection in thought, word, and deed (Matthew 5:48). In other words, we have to be as perfect and holy as God.

To see whether you match up to God’s standard (whether you are truly a good person), answer the following questions: How many times have you lied and given false testimony in your life? Have you ever stolen anything or cheated on something? Have you ever used God’s name in vain? Have you ever committed adultery? Jesus said in Matthew 5:27 that if you’ve ever looked at someone to lust after them (which includes pornography and sex outside of marriage), then you are an adulterer? Have you ever murdered anymore? Jesus also said in Matthew 5:21 that if you’ve ever hated or insulted someone, then you are guilty of breaking that commandment.

If you have done these things, whether once or a thousand times, then you would be considered in the Judge’s eyes as a lying, thief, blasphemer, adulterer, and murderer, and that is only a few of the commandments of God. So on Judgment Day, will you be innocent or guilty? The clear answer is guilty, if you have actually broken the law.

Will you go to heaven or hell? The Bible states that the guilty go to hell forever.

If this is true, how can any man be saved, since everyone is a sinner? The fact is: No one can achieve salvation through their own efforts. However, all things are possible with God, who has made a way for us to be forgiven of our sins and be allowed the opportunity to enter heaven to be with the Lord forever in restored eternal fellowship.

Though God would be perfectly justified in sending us all to eternal punishment, He loves us so much that He made a way where His justice can be upheld and show us mercy at the same time. 2000 years ago, God (the Son) came to this earth as Jesus Christ (the long prophesied Messiah spoken of 700 years before in the Old Testament by the prophet Isaiah). Jesus was born of a virgin named Mary, but was conceived by God the Spirit, which means that He was born of a virgin birth. Jesus was fully God yet also fully man, which is the known as the doctrine of the incarnation. As a man, He lived the perfect life that we should have lived. In other words, Jesus was sinless. He never broke any of God’s commandments. This made Him qualified to be our human substitute so that He can pay the penalty of sin.

That is the meaning behind Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross around A.D. 33. On the cross, Jesus took our guilt and death sentence upon Himself and paid the penalty for all the times we had broken God’s moral law. Basically, God satisfied His justice by punishing Jesus instead of us so we would not be held guilty anymore. That means now God can legally dismiss our case on Judgment Day. He can let us go because of the substitutionary atonement of Christ, and three days later Jesus rose from the dead (John 20), proving to the world that He was not just a human teacher/prophet, but was also God, and that He successfully paid off our eternal debt. His resurrection proved that He conquered death on our behalf and has the authority to grant us eternal life, since He has the authority and endorsement of God to do so.

Jesus’ atoning work on the cross is finished, which means that there is nothing we can do to add to or take away from what Jesus accomplished or worked out with the Father in heaven. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves or make ourselves righteous before God, which is why Christ did all the necessary work on our behalf with His own life, death, and resurrection. What we must do to be saved from hell and be in God’s presence forever in heaven is to humbly repent of our sin (which means to confess and turn from our sins) and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9, John 3:16).

The moment you repent, follow Christ, and trust in what He did for you on the cross, God justifies you (which means that He declares you legally innocent). God takes all your sins and imputes it onto Christ (which is why He was punished on the cross), and in return, God credits the righteousness (the perfect life) of Jesus into your account so you can be blameless before God. This is the great transaction of the Cross: your sins onto Christ and the righteousness of Christ into the believing sinner’s account. That is what 2 Corinthians 5:21 means when it says, “[God] made [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” On the cross, God treated Christ as if He committed all our sins, so God can treat us as if we had lived Jesus’ perfect life. And that only comes by repentant faith in Jesus Christ: “Believe in the Lord Jesus , and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31).

Believers are justified by faith alone and not by their works, merits, or physical lineage. Salvation is a gift of God, which is something we don’t earn, but is graciously given to us by the Lord when we repent and believe in Jesus Christ alone as Lord and Savior. This is so no one can ever boast that they were religious or good enough to get to heaven based on their merits and accomplishments (Ephesians 2:8-9). 

 

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